Lancet article linking autism and vaccines debunked

February 13, 2009

A landmark 1988 Lancet article featured exaggerated and falsified claims, to make the connection seem stronger than the study data suggested, according to the Times of London.

A landmark 1988 Lancet article featured exaggerated and falsified claims, to make the connection seem stronger than the study data suggested, according to the Times of London.

The original study said that in eight of 12 children, autism-like symptoms manifested within days of a measles-mumps-rubella inoculation. But reporter Brian Deer found that was true in only one of the 12 cases. In all other cases, autism-like symptoms had manifested before the immunization. The study also claimed many of the 12 children suffered from a new type of bowel disorder: hospital records that were based for the claim show no abnormality.

Deer had previously disclosed, in 2004, that lead researcher Andrew Wakefield, MD’s research has secretly been funded by attorneys involved in a lawsuit against vaccine makers. Most of the paper’s authors, but not Wakefield, put out a statement retracting the conclusion that vaccines and autism are linked.

Wakefield claims Deer is a biased reporter, because he had complained to Britain’s medical board about Wakefield’s conduct. Wakefield is now working with an autism research center in Texas.